’ve always kind of wanted to see the Outer Banks. There’s the intrigue behind the tales from friends regarding the peaceful tranquility and aesthetic charm of the surroundings, not to mention my general puzzlement over those “OBX” stickers I’ve seen people in this area sport on their cars over the years. I’ve also seen Susan Lyons return from vacations at her beach house in Avon a different person — much less likely to throw plastic cutlery at me from across the room than she was before she left.
I admit to being curious.
However, my curiosity was always just that. I live at the beach, I’ve always thought. Why would I possibly be interested in driving several hours away just to stare at an ocean (that I’m always concerned is full of whale tinkle), sit in the sand (that I’m always afraid is full of dog tinkle) and be surrounded at attractions by a bunch of little kids (insert your own tinkle joke here).
However, while crying silently to myself at my desk last week while putting out that 104-page monster of the Coastal Point we published, visions of “away” danced in my head. I wasn’t real concerned with where I went, so to speak, just so it was that magical place of mythology — “away.”
Long story short, some begging, lying, stealing and nagging got me access to Susan’s beach house. I’m pretty sure she told her husband, Andy, that the house would be rented out by a gaggle of radioactive monkeys, rather than say it was for me. And I have no doubt that she told her partners, Jody and Phil (her sister and brother-in-law, respectively), that she just needed to reserve it for some cult of free-loving pirates.
Regardless, I got the keys to the kingdom.
Susan gave me directions from my home in Bethany Bay to her house in Avon, tips on where to visit and what to eat and some last-minute things I couldn’t quite make out between my sobs on Wednesday night. I was certain at the time they weren’t important.
Fast forward to Thursday.
Somehow awake quite early after the demon deadline was completed, I packed my one bag into the car. I then quickly went to work packing the 19 bags my partner-in-crime, Jamie, decided to bring for the long weekend. Go ahead, think I’m exaggerating. Two of her bags were shaped like couches, and another one had the markings one would expect for someone transporting a human organ. Three lousy nights, I thought, and this girl’s bringing enough bounty to bribe a mummy king. I mean, let’s be serious, all you need for a trip like this is a few pairs ...
But I digress.
We did eventually make our way down to Casa Lyons/Thompson, relieved the trusted McCann-mobile of its Samsonite burden and settled down to make plans for the night.
Not a lot to do at night in Avon. The restaurants shut down at 9 p.m., and the night clubs are, well, not there. We picked up a bunch of ribs, some wine and ... fell asleep on the couch with America’s Funniest Home Videos reruns on the television. You know, I still laugh every time I watch that show, and I still want to shoot rubber bands at Bob Saget’s face. And I’m not talking about his image on the television.
Regardless, Friday brought another day, and we took a trip to the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. Have you ever taken this trip? It’s a beautiful sight from the ground, and absolutely breathtaking from the top. But ... those steps. After walking that winding staircase to the top, only to discover there was in fact no oxygen tank and voluptuous nurse awaiting me, I realized I then had to take the walk back down. Foiled in my attempts to jump on Jamie’s back for a ride, I made the walk.
Friday night? Think lots of Ben Gay, some more funny videos and another early crash on the couch.
The next two days would bring nothing but walks on the beach and visits to local shops. Two whole days of not thinking about anything but whatever we happened to be looking at during any particular time. It was, indeed, paradise found. I had found my Nirvana.
Until I realized what those last few words Susan said to me Wednesday night were: They don’t sell liquor on the island.
Perhaps I don’t really need that “OBX” sticker.